Navigation Links
Researchers seek to discover what really happens when a virus enters the body

A well-respected researcher who is now a chief of an immunology laboratory of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has rocked the boat in the past few years for the experts in the understanding of the autoimmune system.

NIH's Polly Matzinger has developed the "danger model," suggesting that the immune system is more concerned with damage detected on the basis of a biological cell's death than with the introduction of foreign invaders, such as viruses. If Matzinger is correct, then decades of scientific and medical diagnostic thinking could be in jeopardy.

As immunologists consider the relatively new concept, a new NIH grant, awarded to Amy Bell, an electrical and computer engineer (ECE), and Karen Duca, a research assistant professor at the Virginia Bioinformatics Institute (VBI), both of Virginia Tech, could answer some of the questions about the human body's responses to viruses. Viruses cause a number of diseases, from the common cold, to herpes, to AIDS. Even some types of cancer have been linked to viruses.

Prior to Matzinger's model, the common assumption was that the body's cells recognize substances or germs that do not come from within the body. The recognition triggers the immune system's attempt to eliminate the invader. What the immune system actually does, according to Matzinger, is discriminate between things that are dangerous and things that are not. And it does this by defining anything that does damage as dangerous. Through this selectivity process, the immune system does not respond to things that don't do damage.

Examples she uses to support her thesis that the body recognizes some invading substances are not dangerous include the development of a fetus during a woman's pregnancy and the production of milk by lactating women.

So the question remains: do we really know what a body's host cell does when a virus infects it?

Bell and Duca's collaboration is an attempt to profile the host-virus sy stem using the electrical engineering concepts of signal and image processing. As Duca, a biophysicist, introduces viruses into cells in a laboratory dish, she infects only the cell's center. Then, she and Bell, who is also currently associated with VBI as one of its faculty fellows, study the response as the virus moves outward. Their method differs from conventional laboratory studies of viruses that generally involve infecting the entire dish at once.

As the virus moves out from the center in its attempt to infect other healthy cells, Duca identifies and stains relevant markers from the virus and the host. Under ultraviolet lighting, the chemical stains become fluorescent, allowing Bell and Duca to capture images of the laboratory dish at regular time intervals as the infection progresses. The images then provide Bell and Duca with information about innate immune responses to viruses.

Using the NIH support of almost $400,000, Bell plans to next remove the noise from these low-resolution images, creating what she calls a clean immuno-fluorescent intensity signal. The noise she refers to is not audible to the human ear. From an electrical engineering standpoint, noise in this example includes the spurious artifacts that appear in the image due to the microscope's uneven source illumination. Noise can also result from the spectral overlap of the fluorescent markers that Duca uses.

Also, since the microscope cannot capture the entire laboratory dish at once, multiple sub-images must be taken quickly, then reassembled in the proper matrix. The "montage" artifact arises from the microscope's uneven illumination, which is brighter in the center and dissipates nearer the edges of the dish for each sub-image.

To compensate for this artifact or noise, Bell's lab has developed "a method to remove the grid created by assembling the montage of sub-images. Our method ?based on a model we developed that reflects the physics of fluorescent mic roscopy ?also estimates and corrects the effect of the microscope's uneven illumination and the markers' spectral overlap," Bell explains.

As Bell and Duca are able to develop their composite images, they will be able to mathematically produce a quantitative description of the spreading of the virus as well as the host-virus interaction. "The immuno-fluorescent intensity signals (IIS) depict how the virus and host are interacting over time, from the point of origin to the point of infection," Bell says.

Ultimately, the interdisciplinary team hopes their efforts will provide a quantitative method that derives a characteristic profile or fingerprint from the IIS of any host-virus system. If their method can achieve results in hours instead of days, their techniques could be used in clinical and field settings to quickly identify known viruses, or to map unknown viruses to existing profiles to better predict their behavior and start appropriate treatment.

Ultimately, their work should contribute to what starts an immune response. And as NIH's Matzinger says, knowing what initiates an immune response will affect and, researchers hope, improve medical treatment.

Bell is an associate member of the Virginia Tech ?Wake Forest University's School of Medicine School of Biomedical Engineering and Science. SBES research focuses on imaging and medical physics, as well as biomechanics and cell and tissue engineering. Imaging has the invaluable potential to greatly extend the reach of medical research beyond detecting the anatomical presence of the disease. Employing applied engineering technologies to treatment will allow more intensive study of diseases at the cellular level. A greater understanding of the physiology of an illness will lead to more targeted treatments.


'"/>

Source:Virginia Tech


Related biology news :

1. Researchers discover way to make cells in the eye sensitive to light
2. Researchers find how protein allows insects to detect and respond to pheromones
3. Researchers Uncover Key Step In Manufacture of Memory Protein
4. Researchers reveal the infectious impact of salmon farms on wild salmon
5. Researchers identify target for cancer drugs
6. Researchers discover molecule that causes secondary stroke
7. Researchers find missing genes of ancient organism
8. Researchers trace evolution to relatively simple genetic changes
9. Researchers add new tool to tumor-treatment arsenal
10. UF Researchers Map Bacterial Proteins That Cause Tooth Loss
11. VCU Researchers Identify Networks Of Genes Responding To Alcohol In The Brain
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:


(Date:3/13/2017)... , March 13, 2017 Future of security: Biometric Face ... ... DERMALOGs Face Matching enables to match face pictures against ... basis to identify individuals. (PRNewsFoto/Dermalog Identification Systems) ... DERMALOG,s "Face Matching" is the fastest software for biometric Face Matching ...
(Date:3/9/2017)... MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. , March 9, 2017 /PRNewswire/ ... 23andMe , the leading personal genetics company, are ... can now provide customers with personalized nutrition plans that ... biometrics, but also genetic markers impacting how their body ... personalized food decision support platform uses biometrics such as ...
(Date:3/7/2017)... March 7, 2017   HireVue , the leading ... companies identify the best talent, faster, today announced the ... Officer (CSO) and Diana Kucer as Chief ... seasoned executive team poised to drive continued growth in ... a year of record bookings in 2017. ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:4/24/2017)... (PRWEB) , ... April 24, 2017 , ... ... from thermal denaturation in a cellular milieu; however, the broad application of this ... of simple platforms with sensitive quantitative readouts. Cell-based thermal stabilization assays are valuable ...
(Date:4/21/2017)... , ... April 21, 2017 , ... ... related applications were the focus of researchers, engineers, product developers, and industry suppliers ... Anaheim. , Sponsored by SPIE, the international society for optics and photonics ...
(Date:4/20/2017)... ... April 20, 2017 , ... Assured Enterprises, Inc. ... offer a full spectrum of digital security goods and services. The strategic partners ... the ground-breaking proactive cybersecurity services and products through Assured Enterprises. The two companies ...
(Date:4/20/2017)... Life Sciences Inc. (TSX: PLI) (OTCQX: PFSCF) ("Prometic" or the ... ("ILC") 2017 of the European Association for the Study of ... the positive effects of PBI-4050 on reduction of non-alcoholic steatohepatitis ... ... Gagnon, Vice-President of R&D Pre-clinical of Prometic "This extensive preclinical ...
Breaking Biology Technology: